Packers Mini-Camp Report: April 27

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The Green Bay Packers opened the 2005 season with a spirited non-contact practice session inside the Don Hutson Center, Wednesday.

New defensive coordinator Jim Bates made his presence felt early and often on the first day of the first of two mini-camps, regularly seen providing hands-on instruction and exchanging high-fives with several members of his defensive unit.

"I think if a player makes a good play we want to let him know," Bates said. "It's an emotional game and you have to play under control, mentally. When you make a big play, defense goes so much on emotions and excitement and that's part of the game and we want that to be contagious. When a guy makes a good play we want him to know about it. That brings the camaraderie and the team unity together when you do that."

"He's a good coach, very adamant about what he's doing," added linebacker Na'il Diggs. "He's very sincere and knows his scheme and what he's doing out there. He really believes in what he's got going on and what he's bringing to the Packers.

"The first thing he said when he got here was that he was very happy to be a Packer, happy about being here. We like hearing that. He's very detailed oriented and that's going to help us and make us better."

The star of the day was wide receiver Antonio Chatman, who numerous times throughout practice garnered the attention of players and coaches by making spectacular catches.

The first came during offensive team drills when Chatman ran under a spiral lofted by QB Craig Nall. Smothered by cornerback Joey Thomas, who seemingly batted the ball away from the receiver, Chatman remained focused, hauling in the pass while falling on his back along the right sideline.

Later in 7-on-7 drills, Chatman again broke free from the defense, this time hauling in a bomb from Nall for a 40-yard gain along the right sideline.

"That's the message that I want to send," Chatman said when asked about his opening day performance. "I can get open if I'm given a chance. I take (the Packers' drafting of two receivers) as a challenge, a welcomed challenge. I never have a problem with competition as long as they give me an opportunity to battle back. So I don't have a problem with it. I just want to show them that even though they drafted two receivers, I'm still here."

On defense, Kenny Peterson slipped through the line to impede Chris Robertson's progress long enough for the entire defensive line to drop the running back for a 5-yard loss, while Aaron Kampman broke through the line for a would-be sack during team drills.

Missing his first mini-camp was quarterback Brett Favre, who was excused by Head Coach Mike Sherman."

"With what he had been through last year with his wife and just the whole year of things that have happened, I told him to stay home and take care of things with his family," Sherman said. "This will be his 15th year of mini-camps and I really don't think that he's going to miss anything by not being here."

Although not the motivating factor, Sherman's decision to rest Favre will give the Packers plenty of time this week to evaluate the three players battling for the backup quarterback role. Nall and J.T. O'Sullivan took the reps today while first-round draft pick Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the rookie class will join the team Friday.

"(The decision) was strictly based on where (Favre) is in his career and I think that if I have a another 15-year veteran with 3 MVPs in his back pocket, I might do the same thing with them as well," Sherman said.

Sherman also excused veteran fullback William Henderson from practice Wednesday to be with his father, who suffered a heart attack Tuesday. Wide receiver Javon Walker and tight end Bubba Franks were also absent on the first day of the voluntary camp.

The Packers will continue mini-camp practices Thursday (veterans) at 11:00 a.m. Weather and field conditions permitting, practice will be held outside at Ray Nitschke Field (open to the public), but otherwise will be held inside the Don Hutson Center (closed to the public).

Here's a look at the practice schedule:

Thursday, April 28

11:00 a.m. (veterans)

Friday, April 29

10:30 a.m. (veterans and rookies)

2:45 p.m. (veterans and rookies)

Saturday, April 30

10:30 a.m. (veterans and rookies)

2:45 p.m. (veterans and rookies)

Sunday, May 1

9:30 a.m. (rookies and selected veterans)

Today At A Glance ...

Where: Don Hutson Center (indoors)

Did Not Practice: Chad Clifton (knee), Brennan Curtin (knee), Najeh Davenport (shoulder), Grady Jackson (knee), Chris Johnson (shin), Jason Horton (chest/lungs), Hannibal Navies (shoulder)

Did Not Attend: William Henderson, Brett Favre, Bubba Franks, Javon Walker

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